An internationally renowned recording artist who originally hails from Stettler provided the local newspaper with a bit of information about his career, new CD and new single.
The Stettler Independent: Please provide our readers with your basic biographical profile including full name, age, current home and full-time occupation besides music if applicable.
Todd Sterling: Todd Sterling, age 47 (but don’t tell anyone, lol), I currently reside in Elliot Lake, Ont.
For close to two decades I worked as a music journalist/editor, record producer, artist manager and social media manager. I’m blessed to be doing music full time at this point in my life: writing, recording and playing gigs.
STI: How long did you live in Stettler? When and why did you leave? How did you feel about that?
Todd: My family moved to Stettler in the late 1970s, when I was really young. I left town in the 1990s for work and to pursue music. Like any young person going through the growing pains of life, I didn’t realize how much the town was a part of who I was until years after I left. Looking back, I realize it’s where the foundation for my music was laid. “We Rocked This Town,” a track on my last album Road Songs, was written about Stettler.
STI: When did you enter the world of music?
Todd: I wrote my first song when I was 13. After that I always wanted to sing and write songs. I started my first band when I was 18 – we were awful, but that’s how you do it, you have to be bad before you can be good – and I’ve been banging away ever since.
STI: Obviously, music has become a very important part of your life. What compelled you to follow this path?
Todd: As cliché as it sounds, I had to do it. There were many times over the years where I threw in the towel; called it quits. It never stuck, though. I think the longest I ever went was a year, or close to it. The thing is, I can’t “not” do this, it’s in my DNA. Every time I’ve put my guitar away and tried to live a “normal” life, I’ve felt lost and without purpose. Music is like breathing for me.
STI: How many professional releases (CDs, singles etc.) have you had?
Todd: “Pawnshop Guitar: A Poet’s Prayer” is my second CD. I spent years travelling back and forth to Nashville, TN, soaking up the mojo of Music City and learning how to craft songs. I managed to have a few of my songs recorded or put on hold by other artists, most notably Alan Jackson (he didn’t end up recording the song, but it was a huge thrill). During this time I decided to produce other artists. Eventually I turned my focus to recording my own songs, and in 2014 I released Road Songs.
STI: Tell the readers a bit about your most recent CD, Pawnshop Guitar: A Poet’s Prayer. When you released it, how did you feel about the final CD?
Todd: The new album was released digitally worldwide on Sept. 1. The actual physical release happened on Sept. 22. I recorded the album in Nashville back in April of this year, using the same musicians who played on Road Songs. The songs were recorded live in the studio, with vocal overdubs done later in the week. It was a very organic process. I wanted to make an album my 24-year-old self would have been proud of (and likely made had he been able to). I’m happy with the results.
STI: Tell the readers what’s it like to develop a song idea, write music, write lyrics … do you keep a notepad of ideas, just sit down and write etc.? How does it flow?
Todd: Songwriting for me is like magic. If you look too closely, pull it apart and dissect it, the magic disappears. The process, at least for me, is different from one song to the next. Sometimes I start with a title, other times a melody. I might be playing my guitar and something will fall out of the sky and hit me over the head. I’ve written songs in 30 minutes, and other songs have taken years to finish. It’s a wonderful and strange process. I do have a notepad (flash drive, actually) full of song ideas.
STI: Why did you release “69 Chevy” as the first single? What does the song mean to you?
Todd: “69 Chevy” is a song I think most people will be able to relate to – a coming of age tale with a small town as its backdrop. We’ve all had that first love, and that’s what it’s about. Even though the song is fictional, there is a part of me in it (sadly, not the part about owning a cool 1969 Chevy!). I’m a big fan of Bob Seger, and while I was writing the song, I decided to give him a bit of a nod. I chose it as the first single because I thought it would be a good way to introduce the new album, it represents my sound at this stage in my career. What does it mean to me? Freedom.
STI: Your airplay seems very solid, and you’re making a name for yourself in Texas, Europe and other places. Why do you think people are relating to your music?
Todd: I’ve been slowly gaining ground in countries around the world. It’s a long, and slow process, but it’s fun. Canada has been a little harder to crack, but I’m working on it. There are so many great Canadian artists vying for slots on Canadian Country radio, it makes it tough to break through. I’m happy searching for other avenues to introduce my music to the world. Radio used to be the only way to reach people, but it’s only one of many ways now. I’d like to think my music resonates with people because it comes from an honest place.
STI: If readers want to listen to you, what’s the best way to do that? Download, YouTube etc.?
Todd: My albums are available on iTunes and Apple Music, as well as other digital platforms. Physical copies can be order through my website (www.toddsterlingmusic.com), at Amazon.ca or CDBaby. The video for “69 Chevy” can be viewed on my website, as well.
STI: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Todd: Look for me to be in Alberta in November promoting the album with a few visits to local radio stations. I’m also lining up a few gigs, so stay tuned! Stu.firstname.lastname@example.org